Caveman Loving

         Most women are of the opinion that if a man hit them, they would not put up with it. They would leave the man and find someone new. What about the women that do not leave, the women who take it because they say that their men really do love them and that they do not really mean to be that way? There are so many reasons why women stay in those situations. Some women do not want to leave because they want to protect their children. Some women stay because they are afraid. Some women stay because despite it all, they still love their men. Stella (Kim Hunter), one of the main characters in Tennessee Williams's 1947 play, A Streetcar Named Desire, and the 1951 film adaptation which goes by the same title and which was directed by Elia Kazan, had that type of relationship with her husband, Stanley (Marlon Brando).

         Stanley hit Stella, yelled at her, and smashed dishes into walls; but she still stayed with him, even after he sent her sister Blanche (Vivien Leigh) to an insane asylum. She stayed with him not only because she loved him but also because all of these "manly" displays of behavior only made her more attracted to him. She was attracted to the brutal, natural, caveman within him because it made him more of a sexual creature for her. There are several instances within the play that prove this fact.

         Near the beginning of the play, when Stanley blew up at Stella because she had asked all of Stanley's guests to leave the poker game, he hit her; and she ran upstairs with Blanche. She said she was not going to go down to Stanley; but, as soon as he started yelling her name, she went down and forgave him. The next morning, when Blanche asked Stella why she went back down to him, she told her that Stanley "was as good as a lamb" when she came back, that he had had no idea what he had done. She then told Blanche that on their wedding night, Stanley had taken the heel of her slipper and smashed all of the light bulbs in the house. When Blanche asked her why she had not run away after such an event, Stella replied, "I was sort of thrilled by it." Stella was thrilled by Stanley's behavior because such behavior was attractive to her. It was brutal and similar to that of a caveman's, a real show of manliness.

         As Blanche stated, "I saw him at his best! What such a man has to offer is animal force, and he gave a wonderful exhibition of that! But the only way to live with such a man is to go to bed with him." That is the appeal Stanley held for Stella, a sexually charged relationship. After Stanley hit her, they did not talk and apologize to each other; instead, Stanley took Stella inside and had sex with her. At the end of the play, when Stella was sobbing over the loss of her sister, Stanley did not use words of comfort to make her feel better, he held her and found the opening of her blouse, a suggestion of what he planned on doing with her next. However, due to the censors at the time, Stella was forced to run upstairs with the baby, proclaiming that she would never come back; but it seems likely that she will return when she hears his mating call again.

         When Blanche suggested that she would help Stella get out of her situation, Stella replied, "You take it for granted that I am in something that I want to get out of." Stella would never have left Stanley, because despite his harsh behavior, and because of his harsh behavior, she loved him. Even after Blanche claimed that Stanley raped her, Stella lived with Stanley. As she said, "I couldn't believe her story and go on living with Stanley." She was more in favor of living with her husband who could have been a rapist than supporting her sister that her husband could have raped. He was the strong sexual being that she married because of his strong, caveman like sexuality, and that reason would always keep her coming back even after she ran away.

Adrienne Haley

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